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Snowman Rally - 18 Feb 12

Posted: February 20, 2012 11:57 AM - 4117 Hits

Round 1 - 2012 Scottish Rally Championship

Report: CHAMPS TAME "TOUGH" SNOWMAN

Posted: February 20, 2012 11:57 AM

Reigning Scottish and British champions David Bogie and Kevin Rae got their season off to the best possible start with a convincing second successive victory on Saturday's Arnold Clark Thistle Hotel Snowman Rally in Inverness.

With sleet and snow showers making for treacherous conditions on the opening round of the 2012 MSA Scottish Rally Championship, Bogie powered his Mitsubishi EVO 9 through the six special stages in a total time of 50 minutes 03 seconds - 1 min 08 secs ahead of Mike Faulkner and Peter Foy in an EVO 6.

Carlisle's Peter Taylor, with Andrew Roughead on the notes, were third in a Ford Focus WRC, a further 1 min 35 secs adrift. Rory Young and Allan Cathers were just three seconds back in fourth in an EVO 5, but only ONE second ahead of the Subaru Impreza N10 of John McClory and David Hood, who posted their best ever SRC finish.

On paper it might have looked like a comfortable win for the double champions, but in reality it was anything but as they battled the slippery and unpredictable surfaces in the forests to the south and north of the Highland capital.

"We're both obviously delighted. You can't kick off your season with anything better than a win", said Bogie: "However, the conditions were really difficult - some of the toughest I've ever had to drive in. Everyone who got round this rally deserves a medal because you could get caught out so quickly. We had a couple of moments which could have put us in a ditch and ended our rally. The only other frustration was the car misfiring throughout the day, but we made it to the end, so no complaints".

Faulkner fought hard to close the gap to the leading pair at the wheel of his older EVO. He shared the honours with Bogie on the first of the two short spectator stages. On SS5 Boblainy, Faulkner shared top honours with Euan Thorburn who was having gearbox and clutch problems with his newly acquired Ford Focus WRC, and was second quickest on the final thirteen-mile run through Glen Urquhart.

"We'll settle for second. It's not what we came for - we were fired up to go for the win - but it's our best result on the Snowman, so it's a great start to the season?, said the Kirtlebridge-based driver. The stages were so treacherous that we're glad to make it to the finish. That last one was deep snow, and the slush was filling the tyres up so you weren't getting any purchase at all - you were just skidding along on the top of it and it was really difficult to stay on the road".

Taylor is gearing up to contest the British Rally Championship in a Renault Clio, but showed he had quickly mastered the 4WD Focus. Lying twenty-third at the end of SS1 Meall Mor, he had climbed to thirteenth overall by the first service break at Muir of Ord. Then, on the difficult thirteen-mile fourth stage, Torr Achilty, he put in a blistering drive to finish fourth fastest and haul himself up to fifth. A third fastest stage time on the final test secured a podium spot:

"The aim today was to learn the car - which is so different from the 2WD Clio," said Taylor:
"We did what we came to do - we picked up the pace throughout the day. The last stage was very, very tricky but we got through it fine without dropping any time which is the hardest thing. It was like driving on tarmac with an inch of mud on it, topped off with an inch of snow. I'm now looking forward to the Border Counties where I can try to fully stretch my legs".

Young said a recent snow-driving test in Norway certainly helped him cope with the changeable conditions: "I don't think I've ever been on an event with so many changes of grip. Within the same stage you could go from good, grippy gravel to the next minute driving on snow. So a very challenging event, but very rewarding too - and thoroughly enjoyable".

The tricky stages also proved a test for Brick & Steel boss McClory, who admitted there were some scares along the way to a fine top-five finish: ?We were doing fine but on the last stage we lost a turbo pipe and we were off about six times. Overall we did okay - it's just a shame the stages got so slippy - one corner you were ideal, the next corner you were in the ditch. But it sets us up well for the Border Counties next month".

Stonehaven's Barry Groundwater, co-driven by Daniel Paterson, was satisfied with sixth place in his Mitsubishi EVO 9, newly fitted with a six-speed sequential gear-box:
"On the first stage - it being snow-covered, there was actually more grip there than we expected, and we were going too slow. Those two short stages which followed were just a joke - and too many people went off, which is a great shame. The rest - well, I'm terrified of driving on the snow to be honest, and with others dropping back we ended up as the snow-plough! But we made it to the end, and all in all, it was good fun".

Stephen Ronaldson and Ian Arbuthnott emerged as the leading "local" crew bringing their Subaru Impreza back to the Thistle Hotel in Inverness in seventh overall, twenty-nine seconds ahead of fellow Invernessians Dougal Brown and Lewis Rochford in an EVO 9: Brown picking up the coveted "Snowman Trophy" as the leading Highland Car Club driver, and Rochford the Kenneth McLennan Trophy as first HCC co-driver, and Nicky Jack Award as first HCC Highland resident navigator.

One of the broadest smiles at the finish was that of former Escort Mk 2 maestro Quintin Milne, who was making his 4-wheel-drive debut in an EVO 9, alongside Martin Forrest.

With very little opportunity beforehand to test his new car, Milne was running a hugely impressive second overall after four stages - 48 seconds shy of Bogie - and with a quickest stage time on the second of the short spectator stages under his belt. However, he had to cope with a catalogue of problems along the way, and both he and Forrest were worthy winners of the Wagon Finance Trophy for "Crew of the Meeting".

"On the third stage, the sump plug came out of the new gearbox. Lost all the oil. But the mechanics did a great job and fixed it," said Milne: "Then going into the fifth stage we had no diff control - but I thought that's OK, we'll manage to stay in the top five. Then we lost the brake pedal so we did the last stage as passengers. But given it's our first time out in a 4WD on gravel, to get a top ten finish, and a top stage time, is great. Hopefully we can give more as the season progresses".

Helensburgh's Matthew Calderwood in a Mitsubishi EVO 7 ("we've done very little to the car, it's basically the same as last year") ended his day a further fifteen seconds behind to secure tenthoverall alongside Glasgow-based navigator Stan Quirk.

The Weldex Trophy for top 2WD crew went to Alford's Keith Robathan and Forfar navigator Iain Nichol who won the "battle of the Escorts". They finished a fine eleventh overall, twenty-eight seconds ahead of Mk2 debutante David Wilson in a hard-earned twelfth place.

Partnered with Dave Robson, the Alness driver had made the switch from an EVO 9 to the recently-acquired Escort - which he had subsequently fitted with a six-speed gearbox.

"We couldn't get any rear brakes at all on the first stage, and every time I hit the brakes the front would lock up and we'd get understeer" said Wilson: "We changed the rear pads and fiddle about with the bias, but I still don't think it's right. But given it's my first gravel event in the car - second in class and twelth overall, very happy with that".

A relieved Graeme Schoneville and Michael Hendry took top honours in the 1600 category in their Honda Civic - the Carluke driver fully justifying what he had earlier considered to be "a higher seeding than he was used to".

"That was some rally. Really hard. You'd have probably gone quicker starting a stage with gravel tyres, and swapping to a snow-tread mid-way through", said Schoneville:
"But we've tweaked the engine a bit, and have a lot more torque in the car. This is the best result I've had on the Snowman. It bodes well for the opening round of the Brick & Steel Civic Challenge on the Border Counties".

Alford's Willie Stuart, with Neil Ewing of Largs, on the notes celebrated a win in Class 3 in his Talbot Sunbeam: "I intended to take it cautiously, but I just can't help myself. I like a bit of snow, the slippy stuff". Dumfries and Galloway crew Iain Haining and Mairi Riddick did not have their troubles to seek on the way to second in class.

Said Haining:
"The first four stages were grand, but on the second last stage we burst the rear brake pipe, so the pedal was going to the floor for the last few miles. We did a hasty repair, but the brakes weren?t great for the last 12 miler and with the snow as well, it made things really interesting!".

Meanwhile, Huntly's Alex Pirie and co-driver David Law from Drummuir picked up where they left off last season with victory in Class 2 in their Vauxhall Corsa.

Reflecting the high rate of attrition, there were 48 retirements, leaving 67 classified finishers.

Among the notable retirees were local hopes Donnie MacDonald/Andrew Falconer, whose Mitsubishi Evo 9 sustained a double puncture; former Snowman winners Reay MacKay/Robert MacDonald who were hit by a blown head gasket in their Subaru Impreza WRC; and Michael Glendinning/Paul Hughes (Subaru Impreza N15), Chris Collie/Lisa Watson (Subaru Impreza) and Calum Mackenzie/Alan Clark (Mitsubishi EVO 8), who were among the many crews who went off the road.

Photos

Posted: February 20, 2012 11:56 AM

Results

Posted: February 20, 2012 11:50 AM

1 David Bogie (Dumfries)/Kevin Rae (Hawick) Mitsubishi EVO 9 50 mins 03 secs
2 Mike Faulkner (Kirtlebridge)/Peter Foy (Bingley) Mitsubishi EVO 6 51.11
3 Peter Taylor (Carlisle)/Andrew Roughead (Newcastle) Ford Focus WRC 52.46
4 Rory Young (Dumfries)/Allan Cathers (Carlisle) Mitsubishi EVO 5 52.49
5 John McClory (Strathblane)/David Hood (Elderslie) Subaru Impreza N10 52.50
6 Barry Groundwater (Stonehaven)/Daniel Paterson (Stonehaven) Mitsubishi EVO 9 53.08
7 Steven Ronaldson (Inverness)/Ian Arbuthnott (Forres) Subaru Impreza 53.17
8 Dougal Brown (Inverness)/Lewis Rochford (Inverness) Mitsubishi EVO 9 53:46
9 Quintin Milne (Banchory)/Martin Forrest (Aberdeen) Mitsubisi EVO 9 53.58
10 Matthew Calderwood (Helensburgh)/Stan Quirk (Glasgow) Mitsubishi EVO 7 54.05

CLASS WINNERS:
CLASS 2 Alex Pirie/David Law (Vauxhall Corsa)ALEX PIRIE
CLASS 3 Willie Stuart/Neil Ewing (Talbot Sunbeam)
CLASS 4 Graeme Schoneville/Michael Hendry (Honda Civic)
CLASS 5 Stewart Davidson/Breagha Dobney (Ford Escort Mk2)
CLASS 6 (Historic) Tony Thompson/Paul Hudson (Vauxhall Chevette HSR)
CLASS 7 David MacLean/Susan Hayes (Honda Civic Type R)
CLASS 8 Keith Robathan/Iain Nicoll (Ford Escort Mk2)
CLASS 9 Charlie Jarrett/Andrew Stevenson (Ford Escort Mk2)
CLASS 10 Dougal Brown/Lewis Rochford (Mitsubishi EVO 9)
CLASS 12 Barry Groundwater/Daniel Paterson (Mitsubishi EVO 9)

ANTICIPATION BUILDS FOR "SNOWMAN"

Posted: February 9, 2012 3:36 PM

Reigning Scottish and British champions David Bogie and co-driver Kevin Rae head an impressive entry of nearly 120 crews for the opening round of the 2012 MSA Scottish Rally Championship in Inverness on Saturday, 18th February.

The three-times Scottish title-holders are seeking a second successive victory on the Arnold Clark Thistle Hotel Snowman Rally, but will face fierce competition over the 44-miles of forest stages to the north and south of the Highland capital.

They will be followed off the start line by 2011 Snowman and SRC runners-up Euan Thorburn and Paul Beaton in a newly-acquired Ford Focus WRC '01, ahead of the Mitsubishi Evo 6 of Mike Faulkner and Peter Foy, who finished third in the championship, and fourth twelve months ago.

Bogie has been weighing up several options on how to advance his rallying career since becoming the first driver to achieve the "double" last season. However, the Dumfries-based competitor is relishing the opportunity to defend his Snowman title:

"The Snowman is a great rally - they're awesome stages - some of the best in Scotland and the spectator interest is unbelievable", said Bogie: "It gives us an option to continue and go for a crack at a fourth championship and a chance to make history, which would be unbelievable. Our Mitsubishi Evo 9 is beginning to show its age, but I still think we can squeeze one more season out of it yet".

Faulkner is also aiming to push to the limits in his elderly Evo 6:
"We feel that we have some unfinished business", said the Kirtlebridge-based competitor: "The car will be exactly the same. We just need to find a way to drive it faster if we are going to challenge for the championship. The weather on the Snowman can always be a bit of a lottery, but we're hoping for fast hard tracks for maximum attack".

The "Highland" challenge is led by fourth seeds Donnie Macdonald and Andrew Falconer in a Mitsubishi Evo 9. The Inverness driver had a solid campaign in 2011. He finished fifth in the points, and will be targeting another strong finish on his home event, following a sixth-place last year.

Next up is the Evo 9 of SRC regular Barry Groundwater from Stonehaven, co-driven by Daniel Paterson, while 2009 Snowman winners Reay Mackay and Robert MacDonald from Fort Augustus start sixth in a Subaru Impreza WRC.

Tyne and Wear crew Michael Glendinning and Paul Hughes won last month's Grant Construction Stages Rally at Knockhill in a brand new Subaru Impreza N15 and will be hoping to replicate their good form on gravel.

The Aberdeenshire duo of Chris Collie and Lisa Watson emerged as one of the most improved crews of 2011. They will want to pick up where they left off in the Subaru Impreza in which they secured four successive top-ten placings in the second half of the season.

Inverurie's Calum Mackenzie is back in action in his Mitsubishi Evo 8 alongside navigator Alan Clark: the pair powering to an eighth-place finish in the ice and mud in 2011.

The top ten is rounded off by Conon Bridge driver John Morrison and navigator Peter Carstairs from St Andrews, who have finished twelfth or better on the Snowman on four occasions in the past five years.

There will be a good deal of home support for Inverness crew Dougal Brown and Lewis Rochford in a Mitsubishi Evo 9. They are making a welcome return to competition after a serious accident on the penultimate Merrick round last year which resulted in Lewis being airlifted to hospital.

The 2-wheel drive challenge is headed by David Wilson, co-driven by Dave Robson, in a recently acquired Ford Escort Mk2. The Alness-based driver made the long journey south to Devon to pick up the car last November and a couple of days later was competing on the Kingdom Stages at Crail where he finished second in class and a very creditable 15th overall.

The car - now fitted with a six-speed sequential gearbox - will go head to head for Class 8 honours with the Mk2's of Keith Robathan and co-driver Ian Nicoll; Charlie Jarrett, partnered by Andrew Stevenson; and Alasdair Graham , who will be accompanied by Donnie Macdonald's regular navigator Keir Beaton.

The 1600 category sees battle rejoined between the Honda Civics of Lanarkshire rivals Graeme Schoneville, co-driven by Michael Hendry, and Graeme Smith, who is joined by 2011 BRC Challenge class winning navigator Laura Marshall.

Also in the mix is Paisley's Alasdair S Graham, who finished as Class 4 runner-up in the SRC last year at the wheel of his Vauxhall Corsa. He will be accompanied by Laura Stuart from Alford.

Carl Tuer from Alnwick, co-driven by Inverbervie's Ross Hynd, will be one to watch in his MG ZR S1600, while Dumfriesshire's Jim Robertson, with Helen Brown on the notes, will be looking to repeat his 2011 Snowman class win in his Citreon C2R2.

There is also a strong entry in Class 3, with reigning champions Tom and Sue Hynd (Peugeot 205) again locking horns with runners-up Iain Haining and Mairi Riddick (Vauxhall Nova) who took top honours on the season-opener twelve months ago. Alford's Willie Stuart and Largs navigator Neil Ewing in a Talbot Sunbeam will be pushing for a strong finish, as will Ayr's Blair and Alex McCulloch (Vauxhall Nova) who ended last season third in class.

Alex Pirie and David Law (Vauxhall Corsa) will be looking to continue the excellent form which saw them chalk up five wins and two second-place finishes on their way to wrapping up the Class 2 championship in 2011.

SRC Chairman Dave Robson described the bumper entry for the Snowman as a "fantastic start to the season".

"Once again it shows the strength and depth of the series. We continue to have fantastic support from Calum MacLeod's Royal Aero company, who have introduced an entry discount scheme for Juniors this year. We're also delighted that partners DMACK Tyres are investing in young talent with an end of season prize of £3000 as well as competition tyres for the highest placed Junior running their product, and a range of other exciting incentives. Added to that is the commitment by BBC Scotland to again broadcast two highlights programmes this year. It all bodes well for the 2012 championship".

Seeded Entry List

Posted: February 9, 2012 3:22 PM

Entries Received / Details on Pre-Event Test

Posted: January 24, 2012 2:27 PM

Available at:

Regulations / Details / Event Website

Posted: January 17, 2012 3:32 PM

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